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Robert Michael Lewis
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A lot of innuendo in this innocent but strange made for TV movie.
Often, "The ABC Movie of the Week" broadcast movies that were actually pilots of television shows. Most of them were unsuccessful and the shows were never made and a few, such as "Kolchak: The Night Stalker", actually did make it from a movie of the week to a television series. "The Couple Takes a Wife" is a movie of the week that simply screams "bad TV sit-com pilot for a series that never got the green light"! Plus, it stars Bill Bixby...a guy who appeared in tons of television shows. And, it was directed by Jerry Paris--a guy who directed tons of TV shows and sitcoms (such as "The Dick Van Dyke Show" and "Happy Days").
When the film begins, Barbara Hamilton (Paula Prentiss) is thrilled to be going back to work. She wants a break from being a mom and loves the idea of working in the corporate world. But there's a problem...Mr. Hamilton (Bill Bixby) is a bit of a sexist and expects Barbara to not only work but keep house, cook and be ready for good lovin'...but there simply isn't enough of her left to do everything. So, they hit on the idea of hiring a 'second wife'...not for the sex, mind you, but to do everything else. She would be more than a maid or a governess or cook...she'd do it all and live with the Hamiltons. Can they find the perfect woman and make this strange arrangement actually work?! Well, maybe. Jennifer (Valerie Perrine) is not only willing to take on that role but actually wants to write up a marriage contract. And, as Bill Bixby says "Here's to polygamy!". What happens next...well, I don't wanna spoil it.
The 1970s were not nearly as permissive on TV as they are today. However, sexual innuendos were extremely common. So with shows like "Charlie's Angels" and "Three's Company", had they made a sitcom out of "The Couple Takes a Wife" would have fit into ABC's lineup very well. And the film is full of innuendo even though the plot is surprisingly innocent. So, while the second wife did NOT become a sex toy in any way, the term 'ménage à trois' was used several times and folks talked around the issue quite a bit. Titillating without necessarily exposing the audience to anything at the same time!
So is this odd film worth seeing? Well, it IS interesting and it says a lot about human nature and marriage. So, if you're only looking for a sex romp, you'll be disappointed...but otherwise it's kind of cute and enjoyable.
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